Cold and wet are not the best combination for a fun bike commute. Add a headwind and you’re looking at 15 miles of I-wish-I-had-stayed-in-bed.
My miserable ride began before I even got The Mule out of the shed. A critter had managed to topple our garbage can during the night so I spent the first 10 minutes outside picking soggy trash up from all over the yard. By the time I actually got on the bike I was already in a foul mood.
The first few miles were not all that bad. I was wearing the holey sweater under my Marmot Precip jacket with its hood up. I was pretty cozy. Except for my feet. They were soaked within three miles. Manufacturers of wool clothing say that wool keeps you warm even when it’s wet. Bullshit. My toes were freezing!!!
I made it to the Mount Vernon Trail and proceeded to plod along, hoping the rain would stop. Fat chance. Just north of Belle Haven Park I happened to glance up and there not five feet above me in a tree next to the trail was a hawk. Hello, Mr. Hark. Mr. Hawk wasn’t looking too fierce today. He was just as miserable as I was.
The rest of the ride in was uneventful until the tree cover on the MVT gave way to soccer fields at Daingerfield Island. Here’s where my fun was enhanced by a 15 mile per hour headwind. Oh. Joy.
Near the airport there was some tree cover but I knew that once I made it past the cozy confines of DCA I would be hit with those winds again. Mother Nature didn’t disappoint. The last 3 1/2 miles to Rosslyn were not a lot of fun. As I turned from the trail to cross the I66 off ramp near my office, a car coming up the ramp blew through the red light. Fortunately, I anticipated the driver’s lawlessness and survived to ride another day.
It took me a full 20 minutes to get my wet biking clothes all wiped off before heading to my office. It quickly became apparent that my once waterproof panniers were waterproof no more. I bought my Ortlieb classic back roller panniers for my 2005 bike tour. They survived my ride to Indiana amid the remnants of hurricane Katrina. I have used them on hundreds and hundreds of bike commutes. This summer the fabric began to fail. I am sad to see them go. If you need panniers, buy these. They work great. In fact, I ordered a new pair this morning.
|I done wore these bad boys out. Good stuff!|
I keep a stash of newspapers in my office to stuff in my bike shoes when they get wet. I was down to one Style section. At lunch I went out and bought some soup. And I picked up a free newspaper. I didn’t read it. I stuffed it in my shoes. Try that with your iPad.
Most of my stuff was dry for the evening commute, except for my super absorbent wool socks. Squish. The rains had stopped and my morning headwinds were now at my back. So. Much. Better.
At the southern end of the airport a commuter rode passed and said, “Nice vest.” I was wearing my Bike Arlington reflective vest. I picked it up on Bike to Work Day. The cyclists was Pete, known online for some reason as Dirt. He’s a member of the Friday Coffee Club. He’s been volunteering to hand out blinky lights and reflective stuff for Bike Arlington this fall. Bravo, Pete.
A few miles later as I was entering Old Town Alexandria Shawn (known on the interwebs as Shawnofthedread) rode by and said hello. “Nice riding weather!” he said. Indeed. Without the rain the ride home was actually pleasant despite the cool temperatures and wet socks.
South of Old Town along the darker stretches of the trail my headlight exposed the beady eyes of some critters in the trailside underbrush. Hi, critters. Tell your friends to stay out of my garbage.
Tomorrow is my last bike commute of the week. I will be driving to work so that I can catch my daughter’s school play Thursday and Friday night.